Saturday, November 08, 2014

Legal Concerns Fall 2014

1. NEW YORK - November Meetings of Interest
November NYC Programs on Laws Affecting Ivory and Endangered Species
Appraisers Association of America National Conference: Director’s Order 210: Clarifying the Confusion, Sunday, November 9th, 2014, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM. Lark Mason, President, iGavel Auctions, William Pearlstein, Partner, Pearlstein & McCullough LLP; Renee Vara, Vara Art (moderator).  Info here.

New York University, Art Law Day: Changing Laws for the Sale of Endangered Species, Friday, November 7th, 2014, 9:45 AM – 11:00 AM. Craig Hoover, Chief, Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Monica Kreshik, Associate Attorney, Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State; Michael McCullough, Partner, Pearlstein & McCullough LLP; Lark Mason, President, iGavel Auctions / Lark Mason Associates (moderator).  Info here.

2. LOS ANGELES - James Cuno: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts
 An important article by Dr. James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust, entitled Culture War: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts, appears in Foreign Affairs’ Nov/Dec 2014 issue. Cuno prefaces his argument against blanket repatriation by describing Francesco Rutelli, then Italy’s cultural minister, rhapsodizing over the a 2009 Rome exhibition of 69 artworks returned by four major US museums: the objects, Rutelli said, “have reconquered their souls.” Cuno notes similarly aggrandizing attitudes in comprehensive ownership claims by other modern nations, noting Turkish minister of culture, Ertugrul Gunay’s statement in 2011 that “each and every antiquity in any part of the world should eventually go back to its homeland.”
(Gunay went even further in anthropomorphizing ancient artworks as living citizens of modern nations in 2012, stating that, “Artifacts, just like people, animals or plants, have souls and historical memories. When they are repatriated to their countries, the balance of nature will be restored.” See Art War with Turkey, CCP Art News, October 10, 2012. )
Setting aside the absurdity of such pronouncements, Cuno finds the blatant politicizing of art at odds with the humanist goals of encyclopedic museums that present human culture as a world-wide, evolving dialog between the present and the greatest achievements of the past. He states that, “antiquities and their history should not be used to stoke such narrow identities. Instead, they should express the guiding principles of the world’s great museums: pluralism, diversity, and the idea that culture shouldn’t stop at borders.”
Cuno states flatly that, “Contrary to their stated intent, countries that make political claims on historical objects are not helping protect their cultural heritages,” noting the horrific destruction and irreparable losses to world culture during recent wars and the deliberate excision whole periods of artistic history by xenophobic governments.
Cuno finds a way forward in “a robust program of exchange among museums around the world,” that will discourage frivolous restitution claims from individual governments and promote the responsible sharing of collections from encyclopedic museums with museums in places that themselves have no encyclopedic museums.”... more

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